F1 adds Nürburgring, Imola and Algarve to 2020 schedule

Going into the 2020 F1 season, we were set to have the most Grands Prix in the entire 70-year history of the sport. However, the COVID-19 pandemic heavily compromised the F1 schedule and a revised calendar of eight races was published with two Grands Prix held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria and Silverstone in Britain, with the rest also taking place within Europe. They were joined later on by a circuit that had never hosted a Grand Prix before: Mugello.

Scuderia Ferrari Media

Well now we have some more welcome additions to the newly revised Corona edition of the 2020 schedule. The Nürburgring will host the Eifel Grand Prix on 11 October, Algarve will hold the Portuguese Grand Prix on 25 October, and Imola will host the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on November 1st. For the first time in F1’s history, Imola will be a two-day Grand Prix event as opposed to the traditional three-day format.

Mark Thompson, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The first and last circuits will sound familiar as they are former Grand Prix venues, with the Nürburgring GP circuit having last hosted a Grand Prix back in 2013. This was part of an alternating arrangement with Hockenheim every other year since 2007, before the Nürburgring dropped off the schedule ahead of the 2014 season.

Hockenheim had become a fan favourite over the years and hosted Grands Prix in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019 before being left off the initial 2020 calendar, and it had been in the running to host a race this year on the revised schedule before the circuit boss ruled out that possibility. I may be in the minority but I much prefer the Nürburgring, so I’m absolutely elated to hear that F1 is finally returning to what I would consider the rightful home of the German Grand Prix.

Next up is Imola, which was previously the home of the San Marino Grand Prix and F1 last raced there in 2006. Since then, it has had a minor change to its layout, with the old last chicane Variante Bassa section being moved over and used for the motorcycle layout. However, car racing now completely skips past it so when F1 goes back there, they’ll be running from Ravazza to Tamburello completely flat out on the not-so-straight start/finish straight.

Imola and Nürburgring are very old school and have a lot of long corners with plenty of elevation change, and are of course both known quantities to the F1 world, however the third track in question is not.

The Algarve circuit is located in Portugal, which last held a Grand Prix in 1996 at Estoril. Algarve hosts World Superbikes and even held a round of the GP2 2009 Championship, as well as being a test venue for Formula One. Therefore it has a lot in common with Mugello. A lot of you may recognise it as the circuit from in the first episode of The Grand Tour, in which Clarkson, Hammond and May went there to see which was quickest between the McLaren P1, the Porsche 918 and the Ferrari LaFerrari.

Like in my Mugello article, I have a video of an onboard lap I recorded in advance on Project CARS 2 in a Formula Renault 3.5. Again, as in my Mugello article, please excuse my terrible driving and usage of driving line because I am not David Tonizza.

Starting the lap you have a huge drop before running into a very fast right-hander called Primeira, which will definitely separate the men from the boys in qualifying. Then a quick right-handed flick before the Lagos hairpin which takes you onto a very fast and steep left hander, and a long run towards the Torre Vip hairpin.

Run through the flat out turn seven into turn eight which is rather deceptive and I reckon a lot of drivers may be compelled to commit to it being flat out but it does tighten up before it opens back out again. You don’t have time to think about that as you’re already entering Samsung corner, which looks tighter than it is as you come out of it and enter a huge dip.

The Craig Jones corner is next, and I would be very surprised if it wasn’t flat for the F1 drivers, as it sits on a steep incline and Portimão corner follows, which is also very blind. I can imagine a few drivers will lock their brakes here as they are turning more and more trying to open the corner.

A rollercoaster-esque downward turn 12 then meets turn 13, a slow speed yet still very open hairpin which will be undoubtedly tricky to get the optimal exit speed needed for the last two corners. Sagres starts out tight but opens up on exit and that leads to the iconic Galp corner, a downhill flatout right hander that many drivers will love, before a small incline that leads to the end of the lap.

Algarve like Mugello is high speed, undulating and will no doubt be a favourite of all these drivers. Whether or not it will produce good racing with these cars is another matter, but at least the worst case scenario is a boring race on an amazing set of circuits as opposed to boring racing at Sochi.

The Nürburgring, Algarve and Imola circuits join the already confirmed Red Bull Ring, Hungaroring, Silverstone, Barcelona, Spa-Francorchamps, Monza, Mugello and Sochi on the revised 2020 schedule. With the FIA having ruled out the Americas to host any racing this year and very little chance of any happening in far east Asia, the most we can perhaps expect is two more Grand Prix in the Middle East, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

13 Grand Prix have been confirmed, and the most we will get is 15. I do not feel envious of Codemasters, but I do hope they add in Mugello, Nürburgring, Algarve and Imola in next year’s game.

Feature Image Courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari Media

Opinion: Lando Norris is an important figure for F1’s future

We have been blessed over the last couple of years with a flurry of young and exciting talented drivers, including Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Alex Albon. Fast and aggressive, they make up a new era and a changing of the guard, waiting to pick up where Lewis Hamilton leaves off after he retires.

However, there’s one driver in particular who I think is going to pick up the baton that Hamilton drops – that driver is Lando Norris.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, Verstappen and Leclerc have the race wins and in a straight fight between the three 2019 F1 rookies, Norris lost out to Russell in the F2 championship but there’s more to it than that.

McLaren Media Centre

I first started taking note of Norris in the first round of the 2017 FIA F3 European championship, where won his first race. The name Lando Norris was not one you were likely to forget, and I tried to remember where I knew it from. After a quick internet search, I realised I knew him from his Ginetta Juniors days. I also realised I was there at Croft when he took his first win in the championship, on his way to third overall.

I then saw he was racking up junior formulae championships like it was kills in Call of Duty. 2015 MSA Formula champion, three separate titles in 2016 in the Toyota Racing Series and two separate Formula Renault championships, as well as being the youngest ever world karting champion. It’s safe to say I was in utter awe and also bewilderment, because how did I let this guy slip right under my nose?

I followed his progress throughout 2017 in European F3, a series almost completely dominated through its entire existence by Prema. Between 2012 and 2018, every team’s championship was won by the Italian outfit, and all but one of those driver’s titles was won by a Prema driver. That, is apart from one. Lando Norris.

Moving into F2, I wanted to see Norris perform a full clean sweep with Carlin, having won the F4 and F3 championships with them but unfortunately he couldn’t quite match George Russell. No matter, because Norris got the call up by McLaren to race for them in F1 the following year.

In his first season, Norris quite rightfully got the reputation for being a joker. His antics with team-mate Carlos Sainz and many other drivers earned him a legion of adoring fans. He seemed to be so uncompromised by the ever heavily monitored world of F1.

But he wasn’t just a joker, putting in some pretty remarkable performances. In only his second race at Bahrain he performed a hugely audacious move around the outside of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly to finish sixth. He beat his vastly more experienced teammate in the qualifying head-to-head and was very unlucky not to score more than 49 points throughout the season.

Of course, we all know how this season began for Lando. He earned a podium in the delayed season opening Austrian Grand Prix. I was absolutely elated when it was confirmed he was on the right side of five seconds to the penalised Hamilton. However it was long before that when Lando really sealed his reputation as the future of F1.

Back when the Australian Grand Prix was called off, Norris and Max Verstappen committed very early to the replacement sim racing events. Both have been a strong presence in the virtual racing world and it was here where Norris really shone.

Streaming to his extremely popular Twitch channel, it really added a whole new layer to his character and so many of his fellow drivers have followed in his footsteps. During the lockdown, Norris took part in the likes of Veloce’s Not The GP series, the F1 Virtual Grand Prix events, IndyCar and Aussie Supercars iRacing races and the Le Mans 24 Virtual. He may not have been winning everything; certainly after Leclerc, Russell and Albon joined him in the F1 Virtual Grand Prix events, Lando quickly took a back seat to the trio whilst he fought hardware issues.

McLaren Media Centre

But had it not been for Norris, none of them would have had the opportunity to showcase a new side to themselves. Yes, they’re just playing video games but if anything, that makes it all the more important.

Darren Cox – the former head of Nismo and GT Academy – referenced a recent survey that found 72% of people who play video games got into motorsport as a result of racing games, and that the average age of racing fans is declining. He has a point. It’s how I got my foot into the door of motorsport, so F1 needs engaging personalities like Lando and the Esports world to help attract the next generation of racing fans.

Norris is important because of how active he is in the world of sim racing and interacting with his fans. When Lando was invited by IndyCar to compete in the iRacing Challenge round on the Circuit of the Americas he worked with his old performance engineer Andrew ‘Jarv’ Jarvis, who had taken a job in McLaren’s new IndyCar effort.

There are videos of Lando and Jarv from Twitch talking in such excessive and exquisite detail about the setup of the car which, considering how little access we have to racing teams and the process they go through to get the right setup, was extremely fascinating.

In the end, what else is it about Lando? Well, he’s just a very likeable, charismatic, unproblematic chap who is very unassuming, enthusiastic, personable, and has the raw ability to match that. He reminds me so much of Jenson Button, in that he seems so unafraid and easy-going. It takes a lot of effort to dislike him.

At the moment, Lewis Hamilton continues to bring new audiences to F1 and leads the charge for F1 to attract a more diverse, multicultural audience that will appeal to new markets. Once Lewis does hang up his helmet, not only will Lando along with the likes of Russell and Albon fill the grandstands at Silverstone, but Lando along with all these new young stars will be the leading lights, spearheading motorsport into the new age.

Oh, and one more thing. Lando Norris is just incredibly relatable. Everyone hears his jokey and enthusiastic radio calls and his infectious giggle, and we are reminded that he’s just like the rest of us. Whilst we would revere other-worldly figures like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, we relate to Lando and a lot of these younger drivers. We are reminded that they aren’t mighty men who we could never have a hope in hell of being like. Instead, we can be like them no matter what we set our minds to, that we are bound by nothing and we have no anchors holding us back.

 

[Featured image – McLaren Media Centre]

Alonso returns to F1 with Renault

(Image courtesy of Fernando Alonso Instagram)

When Fernando Alonso announced in 2018 that he would be stepping away from Formula 1, very few of thought he would return. With the current status-quo as it is with the last few years dominated by Mercedes with only Red Bull and Ferrari able to hold a candle to them, and Alonso growing evidently tired of being in a lackluster McLaren, it was perhaps understandable that many of us didn’t believe these rumours of the two-time champion returning to F1 with the team that took him to those two world championships, Renault.

But sure enough, it was confirmed by Renault that Alonso would make his F1 comeback next year partnering up with Esteban Ocon and replacing the McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo. The former Red Bull driver signed a two-year deal with the French automotive manufacturer which was estimated to be in the region of nearly €25 million per year. But the promise of a car being able to challenge for podiums in the coming years wasn’t convincing enough for Ricciardo, and he will now take the seat of Carlos Sainz who is off to Ferrari to replace four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso claimed he would not return to F1 unless he had a race winning car, and in a post on Instagram, he seems to be pinning all his hopes on the upcoming revolutionary 2022 regulations which will close the gap between the top three teams. With the teams having agreed to continue using their current cars for 2021, Renault certainly don’t look like a frontrunning team right now.

The experience of Alonso will undoubtedly play a part in developing their 2022 car but even so, time isn’t on his side. He will be turning 41 in 2022 which means at the very most, he has at most three years if Michael Schumacher’s three-year tenure in his comeback with Mercedes is anything to go by. Will he still be at the top of his game? Even if by some miracle, Renault are consistent front runners and he’s challenging for podiums, wins and maybe even the championship, would Fernando still be capable?

Then there’s the question of Renault’s academy drivers. With Esteban Ocon being out of F1 for 18 months prior to the Austrian Grand Prix and having only raced two full seasons prior with Force India as well as a couple of races with the Manor team in 2016, he’s far from being able to lead a team just yet so that undoubtedly factored in when finding who could take Ricciardo’s seat. However there’s still questions to be asked about where this leads the two probable F1 graduates in Renault’s academy right now.

These two drivers are Formula 2 racers Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard. Zhou is entering his second season of F2, prior to his first season , he hadn’t been that impressive in the junior formula, although was runner-up in Italian F4 in 2015. He had been on the Ferrari driver academy before joining Renault’s for 2019, and despite his time in European F3 not being indicative of being potential F1 material, he stepped it up when it mattered.

Zhou scored five podiums and a pole position on his way to seventh overall, and began the 2020 season with a pole at the Red Bull Ring, and was set for his first win before his Virtuosi F2 car let him down. Plus you have to think that Zhou is also a marketing goldmine for a manufacturer like Renault, since he would be the first Chinese driver and China is always a market that brands want to sell in so it would make sense from a marketing standpoint.

Then we have Lundgaard, who won two F4 championships in 2017, finished runner-up in Formula Renault EuroCup and took a race win last year in FIA Formula 3 with ART Grand Prix. He’s now in F2 with ART and scored a fourth and fifth in his first F2 races. He has had a rapid rise through the lower ranks and undoubtedly has the ability, but perhaps it may have been too early and he could be in prime position to be in the Renault F1 drive after Alonso retires for good.

Since we are talking about Renault juniors, it would be an insult if we didn’t talk about the driver who was perhaps in the best position for that seat alongside Ocon.

Lundgaard may have remained in F3 for a title charge in 2020, but that ART F2 drive had already been paid for by Renault so he was promoted into the seat that most likely would have been occupied by 2018 GP3 champion Anthoine Hubert.

Having won two sprint races last season in F2 at Monaco and Paul Ricard with BWT Arden, but tragedy struck at Spa-Francorchamps when Hubert was fatally injured. I would have put a lot of money on Hubert being champion in F2 this year had he been in that ART seat, considering the past two champions George Russell and Nyck De Vries raced with ART as well.

(Image taken from F1 2020 Game Play)

Nevertheless, it’s the return of Fernando Alonso with Renault for 2021. I can definitely imagine a few more iconic moments from him, especially in the Drive to Survive season focusing on the 2021 season, the combination of Fernando and Cyril Abiteboul is going to make for some interesting moments for us, that’s for sure.

Mugello added to F1 schedule

Formula One have announced that along with the current eight Grand Prix in Europe on the revised schedule, they will be making the trip to the Mugello circuit for what will be the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix on September 13th, the week after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

If you are a fan of MotoGP, you will be very familiar with this circuit, as it plays host to the Italian MotoGP. The circuit itself is owned by Ferrari, whose 1000th Grand Prix will now take place at their own circuit but whether or not they can win is another matter completely.

So for those of you unfamiliar with Mugello, here is all you need to know for when the F1 circus shows up in Tuscany on September 13th.

In anticipation of the news, I prerecorded an onboard lap at Mugello on Project CARS 2. Please ignore my terrible driving and my usage of the driving line, we can’t all be David Tonizza.

You start off with a very long and wide front straight with a bit of a dip before turn one San Donato, a long open hairpin that immediately sets you up for a quick left right section dubbed Luco and Poggio Secco. That second part really tightens up on exit which opens up possibility for a lot of errors.

A short run to Materassi which requires a lot of corner speed, then Borgo San Lorenzo will set you up to continue the momentum. Next up is probably one of the most amazing sequences of corners in motorsport, one that will look incredible in F1 cars.

The run from turns six to nine involves a lot of elevation change, Casanova will be right on the limit for these F1 cars before setting up for Savelli, which feeds into the two Arrabbiata corners, two steep uphill, tight and almost flat out corners that I genuinely am having difficulty thinking of a comparable alternative on the traditional F1 schedule.

This leads to a quick right left section with Scarperia and Palagio and then another long sweeper at Correntaio which has a bit of downhill camber. Then a quick flick through Biondetti before one final long sweeper at Bucine which will catch out a lot of drivers trying to get the best run into their qualifying lap.

An absolute beast of a circuit which is unlike most F1 circuits, a real old school track that I know the drivers will really enjoy it. If I had to think of a comparable circuit, I would liken Mugello to Suzuka due to their shared characteristics of high speed cornering, elevation change and rapid change of direction.

Of course along with the announcement is also the confirmed September 27th slot for the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi, which probably resulted in many collective groans throughout the F1 community but Mugello more than makes up for it. There may be other additions to the schedule that were not on the original draft of the 2020 F1 season calendar, including former San Marino Grand Prix venue Imola, and even the Algarve circuit in Portugal, both of which are very similar in terms of elevation change and long sweeping corners to Mugello.

If there’s one group of people I feel sorry for in this landmark announcement, it’s Codemasters. I get the feeling that Mugello will not be possible to create in game for 2020 but I hope that this circuit along with many other potential circuits to host a Grand Prix this season are included in the next F1 game next year.

Let’s hope the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix lives up to the hype.

W Series champion Jamie Chadwick makes F3 Regional move with Prema.

image courtesy of W series

2020 was meant to be the second year of the all-women’s single seater championship, the W Series. It was going to give out superlicence points with 15 going the way of the champion, and it was due to have eight rounds with the last two supporting the F1 Grand Prix in the US and Mexico. However due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has compromised a lot of motorsport series this year, the W Series was one of those hit the hardest and subsequently has delayed its second season until 2021.

This has of course thrown a spanner in the works of many of the 18 women who were due to compete, one of whom was the inaugural champion Jamie Chadwick. The 22-year old from Somerset had an incredible 2019, with some notable achievements including becoming an Aston Martin factory GT driver, a Williams F1 development driver, being a finalist in the Aston Martin BRDC Autosport award, winning her class at the Nürburgring 24 hours and along with winning the W Series, she also won the MRF Challenge winter series. Chadwick also finished fourth with a race victory in the most recent Asian F3 championship, won a race in British F3 and won the GT4 class championship in British GT back in 2015.

So with nothing in place for a 2020 campaign, Chadwick was invited to participate in a test day for the Formula Regional European Championship with the highly successful Prema PowerTeam in place of Roman Staněk. The Czech driver raced last year in a dual ADAC F4 and Italian F4 campaign with US Racing, taking two wins and fourth in the German championship and one win on his way to fifth in the Italian championship.

Staněk was due to race with Prema in Formula Regional but has had to pull the plug due to potential budgetary issues. Chadwick will take his place in the team having recently earned the backing of a company called Rodin Cars, who develop trackday single seater experiences with their FZED model, based primarily on the Lotus Exos T125.

The Formula Regional European Championship utilises the same Alfa Romeo-powered Tatuus F3 T-318 that Chadwick used in both the W Series and in Asian F3, and she has got a golden opportunity to shine as she is in the best team. Last year was the inaugural season of Formula Regional, Prema dominated with their three drivers occupying first, second and fifth in the championship, with 2019 champion Frederik Vesti now set to race in the Grand Prix supporting FIA Formula 3 championship again with the dominant Prema outfit.

Chadwick will undoubtedly face stiff competition in the form of teammates Arthur Leclerc and Gianluca Petecof, both of whom are part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and finished rather strongly in their F4 campaigns last year. The season will consist of eight rounds, the first of which takes place on the weekend of August 2nd at the Misano circuit in Italy, the season will end at Vallelunga on the weekend of December 6th, and along the way, they’ll also visit Paul Ricard, Red Bull Ring, Mugello, Monza, Catalunya and Imola.

This could be a make or break year for Chadwick, it’s very possible she could do very well or be shown up by her younger teammates. Either way, this is a great chance for Jamie to show that she could be a great prospect for F1 in the future.

Racing game content creators to follow

In the run-up to the launch of the upcoming F1 game, I know plenty of us are planning on enjoying all there is to offer. Whether you are diving in the deep end with the new My Team mode, ringing the neck out of the four new Michael Schumacher classic cars or just overall being a tool by piledriving into people at the first corner in an online race. However in anticipation of F1 2020 being released, I’d like to let you all know about five content creators who you should consider following if you’re looking for some amazing videos centred on racing games.

Tiametmarduk


This is one that a lot of people in the F1 community will know already. Benjamin Daly is an Australian content creator who has amassed nearly 450,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. If you subscribe to him, you can expect to find mostly F1 game career mode videos as well as online races, whether it be random lobbies, open to subscribers of his or even organised events.

Daly has been racing a lot of the F1 drivers in the Veloce Esports – of which Daly is a part of – Not The GP events as well as taking part in the last two F1 Virtual Grand Prix races with McLaren (who he has also become the Esports ambassador for). He’s probably the most naturally quick of all the big F1 gaming content creators on YouTube, and plays the game religiously.

This isn’t to say that Daly only ever plays the F1 games, he has branched out a few times though it’s safe to say that as far as the Codemasters F1 games are concerned, he’s the most well known and in my opinion, the best in the business. For a more varied set of racing games, you may like my next pick.

Jimmy Broadbent


Now this is a guy who everyone loves. Known by many names such as Jamble Wanglebork, Sheddy Irvine or the shed dweller, and also for being a bit of a jack of all trades. Jimmy is mainly known for driving more dedicated simulators such as iRacing, rFactor 2, Assetto Corsa Competizione etc. but he also isn’t shy to play the F1 games.

Like Tiametmarduk, Jimmer has been taking part in the Virtual Grand Prix races with Racing Point. Infact where there has been sim racing action in the past few months, it’s been very difficult not to find this wonderful man involved one way or another. Not only that, but Jimmy is also a commentator for the FIA Gran Turismo championships and you can just feel the enthusiasm, this man lives and breathes racing, and it’s just a joy to watch him and his videos.

Broadbent’s YouTube channel hit half a million subscribers during the Le Mans 24 Virtual that he was competing in, and on his birthday too. I cannot stress enough just how wonderful this guy really is and I highly implore you all to go seek out his channel, you will not be disappointed. Also, no he did not portray Frank Butterman in Hot Fuzz.

IntoTheBarrier


A bit of a left field selection I reckon for a lot of you, he’s gone very much under the radar and is someone who I think is very unappreciated. Scott Wallis is someone who I am sure is one of the backbones of the F1 Gaming community on YouTube, as his content is simple yet effective.

Scott often pairs up a short race with overenthusiastic post commentary and throws in a few in-jokes whether that be about aliens, horsey or a very brilliantly delivered “OH NO”. His editing is amazing too, what he lacks in ability on the game (which he would agree with so no I am not insulting him) he makes up for in video making.

What I mean by being a backbone of the F1 Gaming community is that before Scott came along, the F1 games didn’t attract much of an audience on YouTube outside of their little niche. Not many people wanted to hear some monotone 12-year old talk over a car going round a track, but Scott took that concept and perfected it for the mainstream. This opened up the doors for all his peers to start making videos and the F1 games could flourish.

This is why I include IntoTheBarrier here. He’s just short of hitting the 100,000 subscriber mark and he should get there because he deserves it. You have him to thank for the prominence of the F1 gaming community, even if he isn’t as serious or capable at driving as the likes of Tiametmarduk.

He hasn’t been able to participate in a lot of these big Esports races due to the fact he isn’t on PC, but maybe his in-joke about aliens could land him a sponsorship deal with Alienware? Maybe?

Maxime MXM


Another one who may have flown under the radar but understandably so, MaximeMXM is a Dutch content creator who has her channel sitting at 77,000 subscribers, which when you factor in that the content isn’t even in English, it’s honestly very respectable. She used to be a Call of Duty Esports pro player for G2 Esports, but has since focussed more on creating videos on a variety of games, whether that be Call of Duty, Fortnite, but mainly F1 and racing games.

Maxime really turned a lot of heads during F1’s own #ChallengeHeinekenLegends event where former F1 drivers David Coulthard and Nico Rosberg went head-to-head in a series of challenges on the F1 game. In one of the races, Maxime along with a bunch of other content creators (including Tiametmarduk) took to the US Grand Prix venue and she really stole the show. She led a couple of laps and finished third!

She has since been picked up by Veloce Esports and will start uploading English language videos to a second channel called MaxSim, and I for one am very interested to see where this takes her. I would highly recommend subscribing to her.

TRL Limitless


Now for someone who is very alien-level quick on the game. James Doherty is someone you may know from the F1 Esports series, where in 2018 he was drafted by Renault’s Esports team. However he is mainly known for his over 100,000 subscriber YouTube channel in which he uploads setup tutorials, analysis of onboard laps of some of the quickest drivers on the game and he even streams his online league races.

Doherty’s background was in karting, and he competed in both British and European Rotax races. His channel serves as more informative driven rather than entertainment, but his success as one of the most successful F1 game league racers in the world is not to be sniffed at.

Limitless is undoubtedly one of the fastest drivers on the game and his channel is completely dedicated to it so if you want to learn some tips on how to get faster on the F1 game and to learn more about it, then his channel is definitely the one you need to go to.

Honourable mentions

A list about racing game content creators wouldn’t be legitimate without mentioning Aarava. Like his Veloce stablemate Tiametmarduk, his channel is primarily F1 career mode focused but he also doubles that up by being the team principal of Alfa Romeo’s Esports team.

I’d also like to mention Super GT and BlackPanthaa, who both primarily don’t really play the F1 games and are more into Gran Turismo and Need For Speed respectively, but they are both worth a mention if you like those games.

Last but not least though, if you are a fan of GTA Online then you’ll really appreciate the next guy I am going to mention, his name is Broughy1322. He is the go-to guy if you want to know the performance of every car in GTA, as he religiously laps every single car in the game and he doesn’t get enough appreciation.

Alright! Hope I’ve given you all some good channels to go watch whilst we are all stuck inside. Enjoy them as we await the new F1 game!

Negative attitudes towards women in motorsport

Very recently, I saw an article appear on my phone’s Google news feed about a former racing driver who had starting uploading adult content to her OnlyFans page. Renee Gracie is an Australian woman whose racing career has spanned Aussie racing series such as Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, the Super2 series which is the feeder category to the Supercars, and then Supercars itself. Gracie took part in the Bathurst 1000 in 2015 and 2016, both times with Simona de Silvestro which made them the first all-woman pairing at Bathurst since 1998.

Gracie’s racing career was never sparkling and she didn’t set the world alight with her results, and it wasn’t long after her final year of racing in Super2 that she walked away from motorsport for good, citing her reason for hanging up her helmet that it’s no longer her passion. Then she gets dragged into the spotlight by daring to sell pictures of herself online, and she’s getting a respectable amount of money to live off of, the amount? Not important. I’m probably not doing any favours by bringing more attention to it, but I just had to say something because it really irks me.

Immediately, I have seen people say very demeaning things about Gracie, shaming her for making a living off of something which clearly sells. I’ve even seen a person say “Imagine showing your daughter a woman who should be her inspiration just for her to go do porn”, it’s really sickening to see these remarks.

There’s this very territorial culture about what grown women can do with their own bodies. Whether the issue is that they should be better role models, or that what they do is shameful, they’re selling out etc. The very same people who will publicly belittle her but will be the first to frantically search for her content when they get the opportunity.

I know I’ll get the very toxic people who will inevitably say that I’m ‘simping’ for Gracie, for daring to defend a woman who is selling pictures of herself online. This attitude towards women is frankly abhorrent, and you have to ask yourself why do you have a problem with it? Men sexualise women all the time, but when women sexualise themselves, it’s trashy for some reason?

This deep-rooted misogyny isn’t just exclusive to women who earn money by selling nudes and provocative videos, it’s in all forms of life especially in motorsport. Every time I see a W Series article or a woman in motorsport being covered in some capacity, all I see are just demeaning and bigoted comments about them.

Whether it be about Sophia Flörsch when she had her Macau crash and I saw comments about how if she had been a man, she would have reacted in time, or the people who say that the only reason that Tatiana Calderón isn’t good is because she’s a woman. Or if it’s the likes of someone like Carmen Jordá who tries to mask her incompetency behind the fact that she’s a woman, not helping the notion that women aren’t at the level of men and should not compete against them.

That’s why I was against the W Series at first before I realised what its aim was and have grown to appreciate it for what it is. There’s always a surface level guttural reaction to seeing a woman in racing, that it’s a gimmick and it’s not looking for the best drivers to compete.

Unfortunately as is the case in motorsport, you do need to potentially appeal to sponsors with a reason as to why you may be marketable, and that’s a reason you may find a lot of women racing. Current F1 driver Alex Albon was born in London to a British father and a Thai mother, and after being dropped by Red Bull at the end of 2012, he had the opportunity to gather sponsors from Thailand due to the fact that he was one of very few drivers at that level from there, even though he was born in Britain.

Though whilst Albon didn’t seem reluctant to call himself Thai, I know there’s a lot of distain from a lot of women in motorsport to be labelled as such. I remember when Sophia Flörsch got a race seat halfway through the FIA F3 European Championship in 2018 and the commentator kept on referring to her as ‘Lady Racer’, when saying ‘the sole woman in the field’ would probably have done just fine.

But Flörsch has quite rightfully been fed up of these remarks and playing into these pre-conceived notions that people seem to have about women in racing. She’s been openly critical of the W Series (albeit probably a bit too much when she’s made snide comments towards some of the women who do compete) and flat out refuses to compete, which she’s well within her right to do.

Attitudes won’t change overnight, and you’ll always find the odd person who will never stop being bigoted. It’s true that since 1950, only two women have ever qualified for a Grand Prix and motorsport will always be male dominated. For every 95 men in racing, there’s probably about five women and out of those, only a select few will be talented enough and maybe those are the ones who don’t have the opportunities.

I know in my heart of hearts that there’s a woman out there who will be F1 world champion, whether that’s Jamie Chadwick or maybe even someone’s unborn baby girl, I know one day it will happen.

Yes, I started this article talking about a former driver who started an adult film career, but these awful attitudes towards women is prevalent everywhere. Renee Gracie got a lot of stick as racing driver and undoubtedly is getting more as an adult film actress, and everyone who is trying to belittle her for making that choice, shame on you.

Featured Image Credit: Renee Gracie/Instagram

Virtual Le Mans – A spectacle in sim racing

As has been the case with a lot of the major motorsport championships during this pandemic, we have seen the rise of sim racing to fill that void. Had these motorsport events not been postponed, the weekend of June 14th would have been the season finale for the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season with the 88th running of the 24 hours of Le Mans. That has been postponed until September, but in its original June slot will be a virtual rendition sanctioned officially by the FIA and ACO.

Normal Le Mans 24 will not happen til September 19th. Image courtesy of Joao Filipe, Adrenal Media / FIA Wec

Dubbed the Le Mans 24 Virtual, the race will be held using rFactor 2 and will feature 50 entries consisting of four drivers each across two classes; LMP2 will be the leading class with all entrants using the Oreca 07 and they will be accompanied by LMGTE cars from the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Corvette. It looks set to be the peak of sim racing already, as the list of drivers who have signed up to compete is absolutely incredible!

Where to begin? Perhaps with some prominent F1 drivers. Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are back again in a 24 hour virtual race, hoping to repeat their win in the iRacing Spa 24 hours only this time without Max’s brake pedal falling off 15 minutes from the end. They’re racing with Team RedLine once again, one of if not the most successful sim racing team of all time and they’ll be partnered up with sim racers Atze Kerkhof and Greger Huttu.

Team RedLine will also be running the two entries of the WEC team Jota Sport, featuring the likes of Formula E championship leader António Félix da Costa and 2019 IndyCar rookie of the year Felix Rosenqvist alongside two very successful sim racers. The sim racers being inaugural World’s Fastest Gamer winner and former McLaren simulator driver Rudy van Buren, who is Mahindra’s Formula E simulator development driver and will be racing this year in Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland, and the other being McLaren Shadow Project Final winner Kevin Siggy who is currently leading the Formula E Race at Home Challenge for sim racers.

Another prominent team in the world of sim racing is Veloce Esports, and they’re fielding three entrants in the top class with current and former F1 drivers: Pierre Gasly, Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Éric Vergne. F1 Esports race winner Jarno Opmeer, 14-year old Veloce Academy protégé Tomek ‘Hyperz’ Poradzisz, and the second World’s Fastest Gamer winner James Baldwin who is set to race this year in the GT World Challenge for Jenson Button’s Team Rocket squad.

Speaking of Jenson Button, he’s also racing in this, as are his former F1 teammates Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello. Even the likes of Indy 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud are competing. Let’s just hope the latter doesn’t try to take Lando out again!

Two other current F1 drivers are competing, that being Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, and they’re paired up with Ferrari’s current F1 and SRO GT Esports drivers, reigning F1 Esports champion David Tonizza and 2018 eRace of Champions winner Enzo Bonito. Alongside them in the GT class will be Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella, who are racing an entry backed by Strong Together, a foundation set up by Charlene, Princess of Monaco.

The FIA’s Women In Motorsport is represented by Katherine Legge, Sophia Flörsch, Tatiana Calderón and Emily Jones with the Richard Mille Racing Team. However the most notable woman in racing right now, W Series champion Jamie Chadwick is also racing and she’s going to be sharing driving duties with YouTube sim racing royalty Jimmy Broadbent!

The 2020 Virtual Le Mans entry list. Image courtesy of Fia Wec
Second part of the 2020 Virtual Le Mans entry list. Image courtesy of Fia Wec

Other notable drivers taking part include Pietro Fittipaldi and also F2 drivers Louis Delétraz and Jack Aitken who are both racing for Williams and Rebellion’s collaboration effort. Former F1 driver Olivier Panis is also competing, and that’s before we even get onto some of the regulars of the WEC and the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Toyota drivers Sébastien Buemi, Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, José María López and Brendon Hartley will be in the top class. Along with the likes of André Lotterer, Nicki Thiim, Will Stevens, Bruno Senna, Neel Jani, Norman Nato, Nicolas Lapierre, Darren Turner, Nick Tandy, Dries Vanthoor, Filipe Albuquerque, Nicky Catsburg, Jan Magnussen, Miguel Molina, Tommy Milner and Thomas Laurent, all of these are just some of the 200 names you will see when you tune in to the Virtual 24 hours of Le Mans on June 13th!

So how do you watch? It will be streamed on the official Motorsport TV website and possibly Twitch as well? TV scheduling may or may not happen and will vary between country, you will need to check back on social media, Fia Wec’s website

But what does this really mean? This is probably the biggest sim race of all time in terms of driver caliber, and it’s just absolutely incredible to behold. It could open up doors to potentially get more of these sim races to happen in the future during the off-season and maybe for a great cause too!

Yes we’re probably all fed up of sim racing and a lot of the controversies to come along with it, but you can’t deny it’s better than just twiddling our thumbs waiting for real racing to begin again. Sim racing has been immense during this wait, and it doesn’t look set to be slowing down even when real racing gets back going again.

So until that happens, I hope you will join me as a viewer of this landmark sim race. A real spectacle in sim racing!

Featured image courtesy of FIA Wec

Sim racing’s life beyond real racing’s return

As a lot of you will have been saying, I’ve been the one championing sim racing’s rise to the fore in the absence of real-world action and it’s still going strong of course. However, we must now turn our attention to how sim racing fits in with a post-sim racing world, if you will. A lot of people tend to be quite absent-minded about how sim racing is being treated, and make very ignorant statements assuming it’s trying to replace the real deal.

This all started the weekend that the Australian GP was cancelled. We had The Race with their All-Star event and Veloce Esports hosting their first rendition of the Not The GP. Since then, so much more has happened! Off the top of my head, we’ve had Formula E’s Race At Home Challenge on rFactor 2 and IndyCar and Aussie SuperCars hosting their own championships on iRacing. Then there’s also FIA World Rallycross Championship have doing races on DIRT Rally 2.0, DTM and WTCR have their Esports series on RaceRoom, GT World Challenge doing the SRO E-sports GT Series on Assetto Corsa Competizione, MotoGP’s Virtual Races on the MotoGP 20 game and last but not least, Formula One’s own Virtual Grand Prix events on F1 2019, with the addition of the F1 Esports drivers doing their Pro Exhibition event and now drivers from a plethora of junior formulae competing in the F2 Virtual races.

There’s definitely more I’ve missed, but at least you understand the vast scale of the impact of Esports. Not only that, we’ve started to see a lot of drivers turn to streaming on Twitch, with Lando Norris leading the charge and being joined by a lot of his peers including Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Alex Albon and many more. Just last Friday, I saw those four all playing Rocket League together; it was so indescribable, the joy I felt seeing four of my favourite F1 drivers playing car football.

This difficult time for all of us will hopefully soon be over. There are plans for the F1 season to finally begin in Austria on the weekend of July 5th, with efforts in place to hopefully prevent anyone from contracting the virus and with no crowds. By that point, you could say that we don’t need sim racing and in a sense you’re right. It wouldn’t be filling any voids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to stop.

When racing isn’t going on during the traditional European winter, you would have Formula E as well as some other winter series like F3 Asia or Toyota Racing Series. But I think sim racing can still work very well in that time-frame, maybe not with a lot of the same active pro drivers but I still definitely think a few will still want to take part.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The trouble would come by making it an obligation. We’ve seen drivers being made to take part and losing sponsorship from treating a properly sanctioned event too casually. Whilst we would expect a broadcast and sponsored race to have some form of etiquette and professionalism, the trouble would come when these drivers are told to compete when they just want some down-time.

We’ve seen some casual races from a few of these guys looking to mess around. The famous clips of Alex Albon being punted off in some way by George Russell in lawnmower race or on the F1 game coupled with the sound “GEEOORRGGEEE!!!” come to mind, and as long as they mind don’t use abhorrent words (think of Kyle Larson) then that’s all good. But, for some fun yet still sporting events that drivers can compete in, they should be able to decide during their own time whether they want to do them or not.

We could even see in the future, a lot of championships adopting a type of sim racing to fit in with their race meetings. Formula E have been doing that for years, where a pick of their drivers go to a sim racing tent in the paddock between qualifying and the race and go up against a group of fans who have entered into it through some kind of qualification.

Mercedes AMG Esports

Those may not be the most professional of races but it’s something. A lot of the sim races that have been going on are treated as their own thing and are being held with the philosophy of entertaining fans first and foremost, and even though it’s never going to match up with the real thing, it’s a better than nothing at all.

Also, keep it online for free. The brilliance of sim racing is that it’s so easily accessible both as a viewer and a competitor, and I don’t want to see a paywall for sim racing. I get it for real racing, but I’ll be very disappointed if a championship is not streamed to YouTube/Twitch etc. and is only on a channel like Sky Sports, BT Sport or Eurosport.

Heading forward, organisers can still use sim racing to compliment the real racing. Both as entertainment during a point where the real racing isn’t happening that can be open to entry, or in the lead up to a real world event. Plus why not throughout the week? Who is to say that there should only be racing at the weekend?

There’s nothing wrong with something more. If it isn’t your thing, you don’t have to watch it.

Schumacher Week – Legacy

On July 25th 2004, Michael Schumacher took victory at the Hockenheim circuit in the last of his championship winning cars, the Ferrari F2004. Fifteen years later almost to the day, his 20-year old son Mick drove some demo runs at Hockenheim in that very same car. The crowd were erupting with cheers for Mick, but it was no easy ride to get there.

Mick began his career in 2008 at the same kart track where his father started. For most of his karting career he went by the pseudonym Mick Bestch, using his mother’s maiden name to avoid media attention.

In his first three years, Mick committed to the Kerpen Kartchallenge Bambini races. He finished 4th in 2009 and won the following year. With the KSM Racing Team, he moved up to KF3 for 2011, competing in German championships and even finishing third in the Euro Wintercup. He did so again the following year, as well as securing third place finishes in the ADAC Kart Championship and DMV Kart Championship and 7th in the ADAC Kart Masters.

2013 would be the year that Mick would sneak out of relative anonymity, as he stepped up to compete at a European level. He took part in the CIK-FIA European, WSK Euro Series and WSK Super Master Series KF-Junior championships, and finished third in both the German Junior Kart Championship and the CIK-FIA Super Cup event. With it, the media started picking up that he was in fact Michael’s son.

In what would be Mick’s last year of karting, he would go by a new pseudonym Mick Junior, and finished runner-up in the Deutsche Junior Kart Meisterschaft, and the CIK-FIA European and World KF-Junior Championships. Tragedy followed in late 2013, as Mick was skiing with his father when Michael had the accident that resulted in the injury that has seen him away from the public ever since.

Mick has understandably remained very quiet about that fateful day, but he hasn’t let it prevent him from chasing his dream and, after what was predictably an emotionally difficult final year in karting, he would move up to cars for 2015.

Signing for the Van Amersfoort outfit, Mick would hit the ground running in his first weekend in the opening round of the German ADAC Formula 4 championship with a win in the third race at Oschersleben. He wouldn’t herald much more success that year, with only one further visit to the podium on his way to 10th overall.

For 2016, Mick moved to Prema PowerTeam and doubled up his commitments with a dual campaign in the German and Italian F4 championships. This is the point where Mick began impressing me. He took five wins in both championships and just missed out on winning both. He ended the year by finishing third in the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 winter series.

Mick remained with Prema as he stepped up to the FIA F3 European Championship for the following year. The transition didn’t herald immediate success, with only a single podium and a 12th-place finish overall, third of the first-year F3 drivers behind Jehan Daruvala and outright champion Lando Norris.

So far, it was a career that was promising but hadn’t been hugely stellar. Understandably, he is carrying the burden of being the son of the most successful F1 driver of all time, and most sons of former drivers get grouped in with pay drivers. But 2018 would prove to be Mick’s year.

Remaining in F3, he began the year under the radar. It would be the second half of the season at the venue where his father had a lot of his career highs though that he would finally find form, Spa-Francorchamps. Earning pole position in the second race but having to retire, he battled team-mates Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong in race three and finally got that first win.

That was the start of a great run of form, as he went on to pick up wins at the following rounds at Silverstone and Misano. At the Nürburgring round, Mick joined an illustrious group of racers by picking up all three wins in a single Euro F3 meeting, a group that includes the likes of Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll.

With two further wins at the following round at Red Bull Ring, he overtook long-time series leader Dan Ticktum, a polarising figure who was being hyped up as Red Bull’s next F1 star. Ticktum openly suggested on his social media that there were factors towards Mick’s success, seemingly an accusation of cheating. Nevertheless, Mick sealed the championship, his first in car racing.

Before his 2019 campaign began, Mick had a choice to make. Prema often houses a lot of Ferrari young drivers, and with the F3 team being powered by Mercedes, Mick had gotten offers from both of his father’s former teams. He ultimately decided to go with Ferrari, the team that his father won five straight championships with, rather than the team he was with for his three-year comeback.

Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

On his debut in the Grand Prix-supported Formula 2 championship, he finished 8th in the feature race at Bahrain, meaning he would start on pole for the sprint race, although he was unable to keep his tyres in good condition. However, the week after driving his dad’s 2004 F1 car, he repeated the performance he’d put in in the Bahrain feature race, this time in Hungary, and went on to win the sprint race too.

He also took part in tests with both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo after the Bahrain Grand Prix, and a seat looks set to open up at Alfa should Ferrari decide to either promote or drop current driver Antonio Giovinazzi from the lease Alfa seat. However, 2020 is a make-or-break year for Schumacher, as he faces stiff competition from his teammate, fellow Ferrari Academy driver and reigning F3 champion Robert Shwartzman.

I do rate Mick, but if he is outperformed in F2 this year by the highly-rated Shwartzman then that theoretically should be it for him. If he isn’t in championship contention or if the Russian outperforms him, I don’t think Mick should get that seat. But I believe Mick will do well, and hopefully he proves his doubters wrong and that he isn’t just there because of the name.

Mick has a cousin too, Ralf Schumacher’s son David who is a runner-up in the German Kart Championship, best-placed rookie in German F4 and will be racing this year in the same paddock, albeit in F3 for Charouz.

The Schumacher legacy lives on. Hopefully Mick does prove this year that he is worthy of a place in F1, and he can forge his own.

Images courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari